ZOOMER Magazine - - ATTITUDE -

aS LIFE COACH John MacKay says, “Eighty per cent of coach­ing hap­pens be­tween ses­sions.” The real job of a coach is to keep you ac­count­able, but the tools they em­ploy to get you to do the hard work for your­self are ac­ces­si­ble enough to have a go at on your own.


Start with the pos­i­tive Take a suc­cess in­ven­tory: write down your ac­com­plish­ments, how they made you feel and what you like about your­self. “Some­times you need to re­mind your­self about the good parts of your life,” says life coach Ann Sut­ton. She says one of her favourite pieces of home­work is to ask clients to write out and rank their ba­sic values. “You need to know what is re­ally im­por­tant to you, and weigh your op­tions within that frame­work,” she says. If you rank each item out of 10, you start to get a pic­ture of what your pri­or­i­ties, in life and work, are.

She means lit­er­ally, list all the things that mat­ter to you – from loy­alty to love, free­dom to fam­ily, achieve­ment and ac­com­plish­ment, or­der­li­ness and se­cu­rity, ful­fill­ment, love, friend­ship and fun, what­ever comes to mind – and then rate them with a value be­tween one and 10. The higher the rat­ing, the more that value mat­ters to you.


Write your own mem­oir Tell your story to your­self, and then re­write the end­ing the way you want it to be. This is a two-step process be­cause coach­ing is about mak­ing small ad­just­ments to change your course. It is also about fig­ur­ing out what your story is and how you can spin it so you are tak­ing ad­van­tage of what you have learned the hard way. “Stuck” peo­ple ru­mi­nate on mis­takes and fail­ures; you have to change that bad habit into a healthy one. Writ­ing your­self a new end­ing is a way of set­ting goals and then fig­ur­ing out the steps it takes to get there. Coach Kate Arms adds some tips here: “Get cu­ri­ous about all the facts in the story. What story can you make up about those facts that makes you look smart, com­pe­tent, in con­trol, wise, etc.? And what feel­ings were you try­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence or avoid when you changed di­rec­tions? What values weren’t be­ing met?”

3 Take charge of the neg­a­tive Iden­tify your grem­lins. This word is very com­mon in coach­ing, and it refers to the neg­a­tive things we say about our­selves. As Sut­ton says, “It could be that we think we are not smart enough, not at­trac­tive enough, not dis­ci­plined, not wor­thy. This comes from the bad (and hu­man) habit of com­par­ing our­selves to oth­ers (Any­one got any In­sta-per­fect friends and celebri­ties pok­ing at their soul?) Next iden­tify your lim­it­ing be­liefs (this is an­other com­mon coach­ing term, mean­ing the neg­a­tive things we have heard about our­selves from peo­ple in po­si­tions of author­ity). These are of­ten from fam­ily, says Sut­ton, lit­tle off­hand com­ments that as­sume out­sized im­por­tance in our psy­ches. Things such as “she’s the bright one, her sis­ter is the pretty one.” Over time we start to con­sider these neg­a­tive thoughts as gospel, and we avoid what we be­lieve or have been told we are not good at. Fi­nally, tally up as­sump­tions you make about your­self, based on ex­pe­ri­ence. Sut­ton gives an ex­am­ple of this from her work coach­ing. “One bad in­ter­view doesn’t mean you are al­ways go­ing to be bad at in­ter­views. We are dy­namic be­ings and can change.”


Next, chal­lenge those grem­lins (in­ner voice), lim­it­ing be­liefs (oth­ers) and as­sump­tions (ex­pe­ri­ence­based) each and ev­ery time they come up This is ba­sic be­havioural ther­apy, known as “re­fram­ing.” To wit, says Sut­ton, first ask your­self what ev­i­dence you have for the neg­a­tive thought: who said it, when did you first be­lieve it. Then look at it from a dif­fer­ent light. “Turn it on its head,” she says.

The turn­around method­ol­ogy is a clever acro­nym: IFALL. I is for iden­tify the lim­it­ing be­liefs. F is find­ing out where they came from. A is ask­ing your­self how true it re­ally is. Then the two Ls: let go and love your­self any­way. We are all flawed. Adds coach Arms, “Use any de­vice that works for you to re­frame the thought in the mo­ment. If it works for you to snap an elas­tic on your wrist ev­ery time you call your­self fat or dumb or some­how in­suf­fi­cient, snap your wrist and re­frame the thought. It will even­tu­ally sink in. That is how we re­write neu­ral path­ways and change habits.” She adds that there is re­search, found in John Gottman’s The Seven Prin­ci­ples for Mak­ing Mar­riage Work, that it takes five pos­i­tive state­ments to counter each neg­a­tive one – to oth­ers and to our­selves.


Iden­tify Your Pas­sions Play a round of Liked It/ Loathed It. This is home­work Sut­ton gives her clients. She has them carry a jour­nal for a week and record what you liked and what you didn’t. “This is a great way to help de­ter­mine your strengths and what you should be do­ing more and less of in your life,” she says. She notes that you should try to cap­ture the feel­ing in the mo­ment, as wait­ing un­til the end of the day to do this home­work means you may miss some of the lit­tle things that add up to big in­sights. When you have a week’s worth of “liked its” com­piled, then go through and fig­ure out what the ac­tiv­ity you were ac­tu­ally do­ing was: re­search­ing, an­a­lyz­ing, pre­sent­ing, say. Then, ask your­self “What en­er­gizes me?” 6 If you can’t re­frame a neg­a­tive thought, try us­ing metaphor “I ask my clients to put the bad stuff in a box. Then we go through an ex­er­cise where they wrap that box, tie it up and throw it away some­how.” Clients get re­ally into it, she says, tak­ing their elab­o­rately wrapped boxes full of crap and launch­ing them into space.


Cat­e­go­rize and pri­or­i­tize your to-do list and hold your­self ac­count­able by shar­ing it with a friend or a pro­fes­sional And more im­por­tant, make a to-don’t list of things you don’t want to do any longer.


Iter­ate your so­lu­tion Like a kid on a com­puter, keep bang­ing away at op­tions un­til you find the key that fits the right door. As Arms says, “Get ev­ery­thing out. Treat this like a brain­storm­ing ses­sion. Get out all the out-there, crazy, kooky ideas first to make room for some use­ful ideas.”


Get mov­ing Ev­ery small step for­ward is a way out of the mire. As Sut­ton says, a hair­cut can be the start of some­thing great.


Get out­side Sun­shine and vi­ta­min D are heal­ing, and ex­er­cise in the out­doors is mo­ti­vat­ing. Plus, adds Sut­ton: “Tak­ing your mind off a prob­lem is a great way to solve it. Haven’t you fig­ured out your speech in the shower or wo­ken at 3 a.m. to re­al­ize some­thing?”


Take some tests Per­son­al­ity tests are a great way to find out who you are now. Per­son­al­ity traits aren’t life­long, says life coach Kate Arms. “Some ex­tro­verts be­come in­tro­verts and vice versa. What you used to do may not suit who you are now.” 12 Do a gut check Write your op­tions down on in­di­vid­ual pieces of pa­per, toss them in the air and open the one you catch. Mon­i­tor your gut re­ac­tion to that op­tion. An­other sim­ple ex­er­cise to fig­ure out what you re­ally feel, says Arms, is to choose a friend whom you think will dis­agree with you on the is­sue at hand. What comes out of your mouth in your own de­fence, she says, is a sim­ple way to un­cover where your true feel­ings lie. 13 Start a grat­i­tude prac­tice This one, says coach MacKay, is “easy as pie.” Take the time to be grate­ful. Make a list. Keep a jour­nal. “And re­mind your­self daily what you are thank­ful for, be it your fam­ily, your health or your ca­reer.” If you med­i­tate, make the grat­i­tude list part of that. “Re-mind” is a good word. “And if you need a more con­crete re­minder,” says Sut­ton, “light a grat­i­tude can­dle ev­ery day.”

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